It’s been a long journey trying to find a shampoo that works for me. In the past, oh, perhaps 5 or 6 years at least, I remember dealing with a dry scalp, and sometimes dandruff too. Though the two aren’t the same thing, it’s not great having both at once.

It’s often been so dry that I have to carefully dab lotion onto my scalp, especially around the hairline above my forehead as my hair air dries (I only use a hair dryer a few times per year).

I’ve tried shea butter scalp masks, hair oils, and have done many raw honey masks (which are great), and oddly, the time I dyed my hair purple, my dry scalp issues went away for a while. But I felt that my shampoos were always drying me out.

I’ve tried many different shampoos and conditioners, some more natural than others, and most recently, thought I’d found a friend in the Yes To Carrots Scalp Relief Shampoo. It was easy to buy because my local grocery stocks it, and it wasn’t bad (better than some) but I still found myself itching and scratching at my scalp month months later… and in the process, losing a lot of hair.

I decided this January, that it was time to finally try Calia, an even more natural shampoo brand, recommended by hair goddess Holistic Habits.

I ordered a set of their Organic Purifying Shampoo for Dry Hair and the matching conditioner, both with rosemary and cedarwood. I’d held off trying them for more than a year because I didn’t want to pay for shipping from Canada and kept hoping I’d find something that was stocked locally.

I should have tried Calia a long time ago.

I knew after the first wash that this was it. For the first time in what seemed like forever, after washing my hair, my scalp didn’t immediately feel so dry that I wanted to scratch at it within minutes. There weren’t even any visible signs of redness, irritation, or flaking. It was actually… calm.

Air-dried hair after using Calia for a few weeks. It’s a lot thinner than it used to be, and I’m still rehabilitating new growth, but this shampoo/conditioner has helped immensely.

Calia shampoo and conditioners don’t contain any sulfates, alcohol, synthetic fragrance, or even preservatives such as phenoxyethanol. I’m not sure what my skin found so irritating in all the other off-the-shelf shampoos and conditioners, but it’s true their ingredient lists are usually long and made up of unpronounceable, lab-created things.

Earlier this year I tried the Aveeno Kefir Probiotic Blend Conditioner (which promises to help restore your scalp’s microbiome) and it gave me contact dermatitis — a red rash all around my neck, ears, and face. I returned that the next day! Now, that’s a brand that many people associate with being “green” or “natural” or “safe” but you just never know what ingredients are going to cause irritation. Could have even been the heavy added fragrance chemicals?

In comparison, Calia’s ingredient lists are some of the most gentle I’ve ever seen. I actually know what each ingredient is. And there’s no added “fragrance,” only the wonderful natural scent of a few essential oils.

The conditioner is on the thin side, but it does the job well, and I use a little of it on my actual scalp just before rinsing, not just on the ends of my hair. Because it isn’t a heavy conditioner, this works really well and doesn’t weigh down the roots of the hair.

Since using this combo I’ve noticed less hair falling out when in the shower, and I’d say I only feel the need to scratch my scalp maybe 2/10 times per day now, instead of before probably scratching 10/10 times per day. Dandruff has been at a minimum, with most days having no signs of it at all.

I wash my hair every other day but am hoping I may be able to rebalance my hair and scalp enough to only need to wash it three times per week. We’ll see. I also got a silk pillowcase as that’s supposed to help minimize breakage at night. So far I love it, except it requires hand-washing.

As for repurchasing the Calia shampoo and conditioner? That’s a hell yes from me. I’m thrilled they offer it in gallon size refills. Sounds a little much, and maybe a little intimidating to spend $126 on shampoo or conditioner all at once, but actually you save money (and plastic). 1 gallon jug = 16 of the 8 oz bottles, and a savings of almost $58. Also, it will literally last years.

If you have a sensitive scalp, or are looking for a shampoo or conditioner that is actually made with natural, soothing ingredients, I’d highly recommend.

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